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The End of Chavismo?


When Hugo Chavez goes, can Venezuela avoid a bloody power struggle? Ben Cohen writes about why it's long past time for America and the rest of the world to pay attention to a growing security threat, and possibly even turn an enemy into a friend. 

For too long, the Obama administration has treated Chavez like a harmless, if irritating, eccentric, rather than a potential security threat. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to turn an enemy into a friend, by building on the opposition's strong showing last October. Washington's policy should therefore emphasize two points: one, that it will not recognize the legitimacy of any regime that comes to power without a fair election; two, that should Chavismo elect to survive the Chavez era by any means necessary, its leaders will find themselves on the end of the kinds of punishing sanctions already applied to Syria and Iran. It may be too late for Chavez to answer for his crimes in a court of law, but Maduro, Cabello and any other pretenders to the Chavista throne should gain no comfort from that.


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